Friday, August 14, 2009

It is not teaching to the test

Interesting exchange during the New America Alliance conference on education opportunities here in Santa Barbara. There was a panel with Steve Barr from Green Dot, Kim Smith from NewSchools Venture Fund that was moderated by Dr. Angela Valenzuela. It was supposed to be a panel on business response to education issues but Dr. Valenzuela wanted to use the opportunity to rail against testing.

She picked the wrong panel.

Kim Smith was outstanding in her response that testing is the reason we know so much about the achievement gap. Without the testing and standards of NCLB we would not be so focused on the issues of education inequality in this country. I have also said the same things she was saying that our tests and standards need to be fixed – not throw out the tests.

Standards are supposed to be what kids need to know to succeed. Tests are supposed to be aligned to the standards. By definition, teaching to the test should then be teaching what kids need to know to succeed.

Then Steve Barr chimed in and said that parents trust him with their kids - something he takes very seriously. He has to be able to show those parents that their kids are academically advancing so he has to test – he owes it to those parents to demonstrate that their trust was not misplaced. It was really a great exchange on how far we come and that it is time to move away from test or not test - and move forward with finding scalable ways to get results.

Now on to my panel with TFA and Linda Darling-Hammond - - ABCTE playin with the big guys.

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